What is breast lift surgery (mastopexy)?
Your breasts often change over time, losing their youthful shape and firmness. Pregnancy, nursing, weight gain and loss, aging and gravity can cause breasts to soften and sag. Women who are unhappy with the shape, volume and/or firmness of their breasts may consider having breast lift surgery, also called mastopexy. A breast lift raises and firms the breasts by removing excess skin and tightening the surrounding tissue to reshape and support the new breast. A breast lift is often combined with breast augmentation surgery to increase both the firmness and size of the breasts.
Am I a candidate for a breast lift (mastopexy)?
Breast lift is a highly individualized procedure achieved through a variety of incision patterns and techniques, which involves removing excess skin and relocating the nipple and areola (the pigmented skin surrounding the nipple). Patients with smaller breasts and minimal sagging may be candidates for a breast lift procedure that involves smaller incisions than a standard breast lift requires. While there are many variations to the procedure, a consultation with a Cleveland Clinic physician is an excellent means of establishing your individualized treatment plan.
How do I prepare for a breast lift (mastopexy)?
To help prepare for a breast lift, cosmetic surgeons at Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center may recommend a baseline mammogram before surgery and another mammographic examination some months after surgery to help detect post-operative changes in your breast tissue.
If you are a smoker, you will be asked to stop smoking well in advance of surgery. You should avoid aspirin and certain anti-inflammatory drugs that can cause increased bleeding for a period of time before surgery. Your plastic surgeon will provide you with additional preoperative instructions.
How is a breast lift (mastopexy) performed?
Breast lift surgery is performed as an outpatient procedure, usually under general anesthesia and typically takes 1 ½ to 2 hours.
The procedure can be achieved through a variety of incision patterns and techniques. Experts from Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center will determine the appropriate technique for you based on:
- Breast size and shape
- The size and position of your areolas (small darkened area around the nipples)
- The degree of breast sagging
- Skin quality and elasticity, as well as the amount of extra skin.
All types of breast lifts require an incision to remove excess skin so that the remaining skin can be repositioned. There are several types of breast lift surgery techniques available that differ in the incision made and the procedure used to lift the skin.
- Standard breast lift surgery
- uses an anchor or keyhole incision, which starts at the base of the breast in the crease and extends upward around the areola – creating an anchor shape. It is most often used for extensive ptosis (drooping), resulting in the most noticeable scarring.
- “Doughnut mastopexy,”
- which is also called a Benelli lift or periareolar lift, is much less invasive than the anchor breast lift procedure because the incision is limited to a circle around the areola. A piece of skin around the areola is removed and the surrounding skin is reattached to create a lifted look with minimal scarring.
- Vertical mastopexy
- is a procedure resulting in an incision around the areola and then vertically down the breast. This avoids the horizontal incision under the breast that results from a standard breast lift.
For the best result, experts at Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center enter often recommend combining breast augmentation with breast lift (mastopexy) surgery when there is both surgery of the breasts and a significant loss of volume. The two procedures are generally performed at the same time, although revision surgery may be required for an ideal result.
What results can I expect?
Though results from your breast lift are immediately visible, breast shape and position continue to settle over the next few months. Incision lines are permanent, but will continue to fade over time.
While the results of your breast lift surgery will be long lasting, over time your breasts can continue to change due to aging and gravity. You will be able to retain the results of your breast lift by maintaining your weight and keeping a healthy lifestyle. It is important to continue to follow-up with your Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center surgeon to ensure the best, long-term results.
What is involved in recovery?
Breast lift surgery is usually performed as an outpatient procedure. If this is the case, be certain to plan for someone to drive you home after surgery and stay with you at least the first night following surgery.
Following breast lift surgery, your breasts will be bruised, swollen and sore for one to two weeks. You’ll need to wear a surgical bra for the first week after surgery, followed by a support bra for several weeks after that.
Post-surgical swelling will resolve over time and incision lines will fade. You may experience some loss of sensation in your nipples and breasts following breast lift surgery, with sensation gradually returning over the next weeks and months. However, some patients experience numbness for up to a year. On rare occasions, loss of sensation can be permanent.
Is a breast lift safe?
All surgical procedures carry some risk.
Although rare, risks associated with a breast lift include:
- Unevenly positioned nipples
- Permanent loss of sensation in the nipples or breasts
- Problems with wound healing.
Breast lift surgery incisions do leave scars, but these will fade with time with maximum fading occurring at one year. Scar locations include an incision around the nipples, vertically down the breast and sometimes horizontally in the breast fold.
Why Choose Us
If you’re considering a breast lift, look for a board-certified surgeon with specialized training and significant experience performing breast lifts. Consider going to a plastic surgeon that is affiliated with a major medical center, such as Cleveland Clinic. Ask your cosmetic surgeon about credentials, training and how many breast lift procedures he or she has performed.
Is this procedure covered by health insurance?
Like all cosmetic procedures, a breast lift is not covered by health insurance. Ask to talk with a financial representative from Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center who can explain the costs of the procedure and payment options.
This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition.